Earlier this week, USCHO released their preseason women’s hockey poll, and the Eagles are near the top once again.
Boston College will open the year at #4 in the poll, with defending national champion Clarkson taking the top spot, and perennial powerhouses Wisconsin and Minnesota coming in at #2 and #3. Clarkson, Wisconsin, and Minnesota each claimed first place votes.
A total of 16 teams received votes, including Boston College, Northeastern, and Boston University out of Hockey East.
This will be an interesting season as 5 of the top 7 teams in the poll are missing some of their best players. Nine college players are centralizing with the Team USA and Hockey Canada Olympic teams and will redshirt for this season:
Boston College (2): Megan Keller (D), Kali Flanagan (D)
Cornell (1): Micah Zandee-Hart (D)
Minnesota (3): Sarah Potomak (F), Amy Potomak (F), Kelly Pannek (F)
Minnesota-Duluth (1): Maddie Rooney (G)
Wisconsin (2): Emily Clark (F), Annie Pankowski (F)
This usually makes for some wild parity, and indeed, the first non-WCHA national champion came four years ago during the Sochi Olympics when Clarkson earned their first NCAA title.
Fortunately for the Eagles, it looks like the truly elite teams from the WCHA took a much bigger hit in production thanks to graduation and the Olympics.
Some back of the envelope math on returning WIH scoring. Factors in grad'd seniors & Olympians (not transfers tho). Parity is gonna be nuts. pic.twitter.com/hEklyZYwOy— Grant Salzano (@Salzano14) September 19, 2017
In addition to the points lost, Wisconsin also loses the 2017 Patty Kazmaier winner and probably the best collegiate goaltender ever to play women’s hockey, Ann-Renée Desbiens, to graduation.
It should be a fun year, and while the Eagles didn’t earn any 1st place votes in the poll, they are absolutely one of the teams with a very real shot at claiming the national championship. BC starts their season tomorrow (!) with an exhibition against Laurentian University of the CIS, followed by one of their biggest series of the year next weekend with a pair against the WCHA’s Minnesota-Duluth.